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How to deal with being ostracized in the office

Updated April 17, 2017

Although workplace ostracism rarely has anything to do with the person being ostracised, it's still psychologically hurtful and greatly affects an employee's work experience. A few strategies can be implemented to survive this. Some of these may not eliminate the ostracism completely, but they can improve the work environment. If the ostracism has become general harassment, take legal steps.

Tough at the bottom?

Assess the situation and the incidents in a calm way. If ostracism is occurring, avoid confronting co-workers in an informal fashion and remain composed. Determine whether or not it's serious enough to move on to the next step or is just a one-time experience. Either way, one of the best defences against ostracism is refusing to demonstrate discomfort in any way.

Document everything. If incidents occur regularly, write them down. Note the time, location, people involved and the specific form of ostracism. Include as many details as possible and keep all incidents together in safe place. This information will become necessary if the ostracism warrants legal action. Moreover, specific details and dates strengthen the case. Also, consult the company's handbook to learn its policy regarding workplace harassment.

Remain professional. Whether or not the reasons for the ostracism are justifiable, don't provide more reasons to be ostracised. Ignoring the glances, snickers and blatant disregard of co-workers is challenging but imperative for building a solid, legal case. The best defence is to consistently document and continue performing all required work duties. Attend meetings, interact with co-workers and clients, and conduct business in a professional manner at all times.

Form new acquaintances. A stressful work environment has significant impacts on an employee's work production and mental health. Make sure to establish healthy acquaintances within the workplace. However, avoid involving them in the issues. Find ways to relax and de-stress with your new acquaintances.

Consult a mentor. Inside or outside the workplace, you sometimes need a fresh perspective to gain clarity on a difficult situation. A mentor can offer sound advice and support. She can also offer an objective viewpoint or insight, If nothing else, she can serve as a sounding board to safely voice frustration with the situation.

Speak with management privately. Alert a member of management who isn't participating in the ostracism. He may find it necessary to provide professional development workshops or sensitivity training to the entire staff. Provide the manager with a copy of the documented incidents so he understands the extent and seriousness of the issue.

Meet with a company mediator. When all else fails, take steps to begin legal action. Not all companies offer mediators, but usually, someone in human resources is appointed to handle workplace harassment issues. This person must investigate the reported issues and provide viable resolutions.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Company handbook
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About the Author

Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.